In their competition videos, the girls on the Braintree High School varsity dance team could be described as professional. The choreography is tight; leaps and grand jetes approach those of Boston ballerinas; kick lines rival those of the Rockettes. The girls move as if clones of one another—in time, in sync, hitting high jumps into splits with an easy fluidity.
Here, Braintree High Varsity Dance Team coach, Jamie Campbell drilling her team during practice in Braintree High's cafeteria. Next
But the most accurate description of the team may be victorious. The team has participated in dozens of contests since its inception in the early 1980s and since 2007, has placed in the top three at almost every level of competition, winning six state titles.
Pictured: Team captains Ashley Boyle, Alison Page, and Rose Thackeray during practice Next
While the girls cycle in and out due to graduations, the team has been unstoppable. That distinction was reinforced with another first-place finish at the Bay State Conference competition and will be tested again at the state championships in March. Next
"They’ve always been a ground-breaking program for Massachusetts," coach Jamie Campbell said of her team. Next
The success of the high school team begins with a large pool of talent developed within the town’s borders.
According to Kelli Smith, a teacher at the Braintree Academy of Dance, the girls start learning technique at a young age.
“I think a lot has to do with what age they start at and what kind of training they are getting,” said Smith, who noted that there are several dance studios in Braintree. Next
For all its success, the Braintree High dance team began almost as an afterthought.
In the early 1980s, Campbell’s mother, Patty Hale, started the dance team as a pep squad replacement to perform during halftime at high school football games.
“I had all these girls and nothing to do with them. . . So I changed it to a dance team, and I got music through the speaker system and the girls danced at halftime. And that’s how it all started,” Hale said. Next
“The girls we’re getting are ones that have wanted to be on dance team since early elementary years, and they are going to dancing schools that will train them to the point of making dance team,” Campbell said. “Seven to eight years ago, it would be if you had rhythm and could dance, you would make it. Now, we’re looking for extensive technical training, a dance knowledge, and those are the athletes we’re targeting.” Next
“I told the girls I will give them any opportunity that I possibly can,” Campbell said. “I want to get them exposed to the world and prepare for college dance or whatever they want to do — give them as many opportunities as I can.
“That comes along with watching it start at the bottom. You have so much investment. It’s hard not to give it your all.” Back to the beginning
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